Photos by Deneen Underwood
By Bob Podurgiel
When it comes to their vacations, students in the Bishop Canevin High School photo club have experienced some exciting adventures: swimming with jellyfish, touring the redwood forests of California and witnessing the California wildfires.
And they came back with the photos to prove it.
Those pictures are on display at the Carnegie Borough Building lobby through May 31, where visitors can take their time viewing the work of some very talented young photographers.
Charlotte Smith, the English Department Chair at Bishop Canevin and the photo club moderator, said she was impressed with the submissions this year for the Carnegie exhibit. Altogether more than 50 photographs were selected to be framed and exhibited.
This is the third year in which the photography students have had the opportunity to share their photographs with the public. Carnegie Mayor Stacie Riley, a Bishop Canevin alumna, helped the club receive permission from the borough for the exhibit.
Last year because of COVID-19, the lobby was closed to the public, but the borough and photo club worked together to display the photographs on easels near the front windows of the lobby so people walking by could enjoy the exhibit.
This year visitors can get up close and personal to enjoy the work.
They range from close-up studies of flowers and Pennsylvania bridges to a shot of the Eifel Tower in Paris, and stark images from the deserts in the western United States.
Alysha Cutri, a senior, took a stunning close-up photo of a jellyfish, with the seawater around the subject tinted a dark, indigo blue.
Senior Renee LaGrosse captured the ferocity of a raging wildfire in the American west, devouring trees as the fire swept up the side of a mountain, and Lauren Kirsch, also a senior, captured the serene beauty of towering American redwoods, one of the oldest living tree species on earth.
Kirsch takes many of her photos using an Iphone, but she also uses a Canon camera, and she likes to take photos in the National Parks out West. As to her technique, she wrote in an email, “I normally take photos of magnificent figures in nature with smaller items in the foreground to give it perspective.”
The students in the club don’t just limit their creativity and energy to taking photos.
Senior Theresa Skindzier is the school’s yearbook editor and a Junior Olympic archer.
LaGrosse is editor of the school’s literary magazine, “The Oracle,” and is on the tennis team.
Kirsch is president of the National Honor Society, and played on the girls soccer and girls basketball teams. Another senior photo club member, Katie Drauch is in the school musical and a Crusette drill team member.
Senior Alysha Cutri, who took the photo of the jellyfish, is the school yearbook’s head photographer and a pitcher on the softball team, while sophomore photographer, Vivien White, is a championship fisherman.
Jeff Keenan, a Bishop Canevin Class of ‘70 alumnus, while on a recent visit to the borough building remarked on the student’s artwork.
“The photos are beautiful, excellent,” he said. “It’s exciting to see the vision of these young people, their creativity and dynamic enthusiasm.”
While a Canevin student, Keenan was a photographer for “The Mosiac,” the school’s yearbook, and took photos for the school newspaper. He later went on to become one of the official photographers for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and worked as a photojournalist for many years.
Now he is pursuing a little extracurricular activity of his own, serving as one of the key volunteers at the Carnegie Historical Society, where he gives tours of the Honus Wagner Baseball Museum, and has become an expert on the life of Honus Wagner, the Carnegie native, who along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, were in the first class of players inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
Smith, the photo club moderator, is actively involved with her students at the high school. In addition to serving as English department chair, she is the yearbook advisor, honors speech and debate moderator, academic team moderator, and literary magazine advisor.
“I love teaching students in high school,” she said. “At this age, they are still young, but want to be grown up.”
“There are so many opportunities today, it’s sometimes hard for them to choose what they want to do. I tell them once you choose, America is still the land of opportunity.”